Author Speed Dating: Stephanie Dees

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Stephanie Dees

 

 

 

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

​We live on the main street in our small Alabama town. Trick-or-treaters start at one end of the street and end up at the other end at the town square for a festival. ​Our family–including the Batgirl-costumed toy poodle and our five-year-old Batman–will be sitting outside with a (giant) bowl of candy and glow-sticks. It’s so much fun!

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

​I’m sure this is going to show my age, but I loved those high-waisted Laura Ashley dresses. They were so cute and SO comfortable! Take me back to the ’90s, haha!

Stephanie Dees, c. 1995, in one of the Laura Ashley dresses she loves.

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

 ​It took seven years and four full manuscripts. I did a lot of revising.​

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

Patrick Swayze. He was the tortured hero-bad boy turned good. Swoon! ​

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

 ​I have an office in our current home and I love it so much! It has big windows, tons of    natural light and…a door that closes! 

 

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by J.D. Robb) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

​I’d have to say Eve Dallas is my favorite. I’ve read every single one of the In Death series, some of them more than once. A close second would be Hermione, though. Both are independent, strong women who’ve been through some stuff and aren’t afraid to be leaders. I love those qualities in a female character!​

 7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

​Facebook is the best for interaction. I also have a newsletter for those who prefer email updates and Instagram. Instagram is new to me in the last couple of years (thanks, young-adult children, for dragging me into the 21st Century) but I really like it, too!​

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Definitely fries, with lots of salt and ketchup for dipping!​

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

All the time! When I’m writing a book, the characters are living in my head and imagination. It really is like they’re real people with real problems and real relationships. (Should I admit that on the Internet?​)

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

I haven’t been there, but I think I would be standing at the edge trying to catch my breath at the sight.​

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

Big Bang Theory. The nerd/beauty storyline never gets old for me!

​12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like? 

​Claire Conley (the heroine from my first book, THE DAD NEXT DOOR)​ moves across the country with a dream and a half-baked plan to make it happen. I’d love to be that brave!

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

The Proposal. I’ve watched that movie a hundred times, at least! I’m a sucker for a rom-com, and that one never gets old. In fact, it’s probably on cable right now… 

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

I’ve always liked to make up stories. Starting in 2009, I wrote eight inspirational romantic suspense books for Love Inspired Suspense, took a long break as we added to our family, and now am writing for Love Inspired Romance as Stephanie Dees. 

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

This is such an impossible question. How can a person only pick two books?

DADDY-LONG-LEGS, by Jean Webster, was a favorite read in childhood, and I still love it. The heroine is thoughtful and intelligent and layered, and there are so many little nuggets of wisdom wrapped into the story.​

While I was on my hiatus from writing, I spent some time working with foster care which was an eye-opening experience for a lot of reasons. One huge realization was just how many kids are out there who, through no fault of their own, have experienced devastating trauma. They deserve families who step in and walk alongside them. The Family Blessings books were born out of my time as a foster parent and are special to me for that reason. The latest one is A BABY FOR THE DOCTOR.

***

A Baby for the Doctor

By Stephanie Dees

 

 

 

Frowning at her, Ash sat on the end of her bed. “Why are you sorry?”

“I got sick and left you to deal with Levi all on your own. And you obviously haven’t left his side.”

“I look that bad, huh?” His smile was quick and rueful as he and rubbed the stubble on his chin.

As if. It seemed impossible, but he was even more handsome with the scruff. Jordan raised an eyebrow. “Pretty bad.”

Ash chuckled. “In that case, I need a favor.”

“Anything.”

“Really? Anything? You don’t want to know what it is first?”

She narrowed her eyes. “Now you’re scaring me. What is it?”

“I have to go to this fundraiser in a couple of weeks, one that’s important to me. I need a date.”

She hesitated,

“You did say anything, remember.”

“Can I wear my boots?”

“No.” He smiled and her heart forgot to beat for a second. He was exhausted and stubbly and still his smile could make her swoon.

“Okay.”

“Okay? Really?” There was genuine surprise and excitement in his voice.

She was already regretting this decision. But she did owe him one and if that’s what he wanted…“I think you know what you’re getting into with me by now, so if my being your date is you calling in the favor, you got it.”

“I’ll text you the details when I’m awake enough to remember them.”

Levi stirred and whimpered in his crib. Jordan stood up, swayed, and sat back down to regroup.

She tried again and this time, she made it to the sweet boy’s bed, only coughing a little bit. She smoothed his hair away from his forehead and sang again the song she had sung to him the first time she saw him and almost every day since–Our God is a great big God and He holds us in His hand.

The little body relaxed and he curled up around his stuffed animal, tucking his hands under his chin as she stroked his soft curls. She covered him with the fuzzy fleece blanket, her legs shaking with the effort of standing so long.

When she turned around, Ash was sound asleep on her bed, legs curled up, feet hanging off the bed. She drew the blanket over his shoulders and stood there a moment, taking in the beautiful face, even with three days of stubble, even with lines carved from exhaustion. Those small imperfections only made him more attractive, given the reason behind them.

She resisted the urge to smooth his hair like she had Levi’s. He had many more layers to him than she’d first thought. He was still that guy–the easy-going, guitar-playing ladies’ man, but the more she was around him, the more she realized he wasn’t just that guy. He was real and deep and…complicated.

She got another blanket out of the closet in the room and settled into the reclining chair to let Ash get a few hours of sleep.

He’d stepped up and been her rock through this whole experience. Tomorrow, they were checking out. And as much as she wanted to be at home in her own bed, there was a part of her that would miss having him right by her side. Things wouldn’t be the same after they left the hospital, and they shouldn’t be.

She didn’t want to need him. But somehow, despite her best effort, she did.

***

A BABY FOR THE DOCTOR, part of The Family Blessings series and a September 2017 release from Harlequin Love Inspired, may be purchased through these and other retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million  and Harlequin.

***

 

About Stephanie

Award-winning author Stephanie Dees lives in small-town Alabama with her pastor husband and two youngest children. A Southern girl through and through, she loves sweet tea, SEC football, corn on the cob and air-conditioning. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing kids and drinking coffee, not necessarily in that order.  Learn more about Stephanie and sign up for her newsletter through her website, www.stephaniedees.com, and connect with her through Facebook and Instagram.

 

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Author Speed Dating: Darcy Woods

I love discovering new authors, so I wanted my blog to be a place where readers and my author pals could come together. Only we like to do this Speed-Dating style. Check out a new author and her work here every Wednesday, and if the spark is there, you’ll have a match. 

This week’s guest: Darcy Woods

 

15 Questions

1. Halloween or Harvest celebrations: Are you an enthusiast or noncommittal in these fall events? And if you celebrate, what are your favorite activities?

If by “celebrate” you mean gorging on butternut squash lasagna, autumn bisque, and apple crisp while wearing 90% fleece, that’s a resounding YES. 

2. If you could single-handedly bring back one fashion trend just because it fits your personal style, what trend would you return to the runways of Paris and Milan and why?

Oh, gosh… Personally, I feel incredibly fortunate to live in the era of leggings and will weep oceans when they go out of style. Leggings are the most socially accepted form of pajamas that exist. 

3. How many full manuscripts did you have to write before you were first published?

 1.5. To clarify, I wrote my first ms and then rewrote it from page one using the “bones” of the original premise. 

4. Name your favorite celebrity crush from high school. What made that performer/athlete/political leader so dreamy?

Luke Perry. I blame his swoony sideburns and the whole bad-boy-with-a-heart-of-gold persona. 

5. Preferred writing location: home office with total silence, public place with plenty of white noise or some other combination?

I love writing at home! When weather permits I sit out on my screen porch (which is basically a giant tree fort since I live in the woods). But for the other ten months of the year, you can find me in my office with a wee pot of mini orchids on my desk.

6. Favorite more recent popular fiction heroine: Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins), Stephanie Plum (Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich), Eve Dallas (Eve Dallas/In Death series by J.D. Robb ) or Hermione Granger (Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling)?

Hands down, Hermione! 

 7. Name your favorite way to stay in touch with your readers.

Ideally, it would be nerding out with them at book events! But on the social media end of the spectrum, I’d say Instagram is my fave.

8. Extra-large French fries or a perfect square of dark chocolate?

Gahhhh! Dana, this is like a Sophie’s Choice question! Okay, fine. I’ll take the lifetime supply of extra-large French fries, please.

9. Have you ever, even for a moment, forgotten that one of your characters was…you know…fictional?

Only every single day. 

10. Picture yourself standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Now describe what you’re doing right now: cheering in a victory stance, leaning over for a better view, or turning pale and curling into a fetal position as far as possible from the edge?

Cheering in a victory stance! While I’m not height-phobic, I still have a healthy respect of them. 

11. Property Brothers or Big Bang Theory?

I haven’t seen either—I swear I’m not a bot! Most recently, I binge watched (and adored) Ozark.

12. Which character from one of your own books do you wish you were more like?

Irina Dmitriyev, the Russian piercing artist in SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS. She’s the kind of fearless girl you’d want to help carry out your bucket list.  

13. Name a movie you’ve watched countless times but one you’ll still tune in to whenever it’s on cable.

Bridget Jones’s Diary. It’s a siren to my soul.

14. When did you first decide you were a writer, and when was your first book published?

About six years ago. On a particularly dreary day in February, I sat down and tried writing. I’ve always been an avid reader, so imagine my surprise when WRITING turned out to be my oxygen! Then SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS was published in 2016.

15. If you could keep only the possessions that would fit in one suitcase, and you were limited to two books – one you wrote and one by someone else – which titles would you tuck inside your bag? Explain your choices.

Oof. That’s a toughy. Well, since I only have one title out, SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS it is! As for another author’s, I’d probably coin toss Maggie Stiefvater’s  THE SCORPIO RACES (heads) against THE ACCIDENT SEASON by Moïra Fowley-Doyle (tails). 

 

***

 

 

 

 

Summer of Supernovas

By Darcy Woods

 

Chapter 1

Be humble for you are made of earth.

Be noble for you are made of stars.

~Serbian Proverb

 

Two fears have plagued me from the time I was little, and today I must face one of them.

It’s not the clowns. A lot of kids get squeamish around clowns, I know. But no one else at Jessica Bernard’s seventh birthday party screamed bloody murder and wet their pants at the sight of one. That’s when I earned the nickname Wila-pee-na. The nickname’s quasi-forgotten—thank heavens. Though the fear of clowns is not.

Still, what I’m about to tackle is worse. Way worse.

Carefully I take my place at the top of the water tower, letting my bare legs dangle. The early summer breeze rushes to greet them. One hundred and twenty feet stretch between me and the ground. My pulse doesn’t even flicker. I wish it did. Because heights are a perfectly reasonable fear.

Beneath and around me, the water tower spikes like a bulbous-headed nail from an otherwise tidy landscape. The aging white reservoir once proudly proclaimed CITY OF CARLISLE. But since most everyone, except me and the elements, has forgotten the old tower, it  now reads: ITY OF CARL.

I adjust the wrinkled towel underneath me since the metal of the six-foot wide circular platform is equal parts rust and chipped pant. It’s not as if I planned on coming up here—and certainly not in a dress—but driving by on the way to Hyde Park . . . well, I just had to stop. Because for all the structure’s imperfections, it does manage to get one thing right—the view. From here the world is utterly perfect.

Unfolding the yellowing paper, I smooth it over my lap. My astrological birth chart’s intricate and faded markings offer nothing I haven’t seen a million times. I do it out of habit, because the placement of every planet and its degree is as well-known as the location of the nose on my face.

And there it is: The queen mother of all my fears. The Fifth House.

Relationships.

Romance.

Love.

Much as I’d rather bury myself in the study of astrology and its role in the human experience, I can’t avoid reality any longer. Because the clock is ticking. I have precisely twenty-two days.

Twenty-two days of planetary alignment to find my perfect match.

 

***

SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS, a May 2016 release from Crown Books for Young Readers, may be purchased through these retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, Powell’s, Kobo and iBooks.

***

About Darcy

DARCY WOODS has held an eclectic mix of professions—from refueling helicopters for the U.S. Army to recharging bodies and spirits at a spa—but her most beloved career is being an author. She lives in Michigan with her madly supportive husband, two tuxedo cats (who overdress for everything) and a closet full of neatly organized shoes. SUMMER OF SUPERNOVAS is her double RITA®-nominated debut young adult novel. Stay in touch with Darcy through her website, www.darcywoods.com, and through Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram and Facebook. Sign up for her newsletter here.

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